Pompeo meets King Salman, MBS in Riyadh

Pompeo urges Gulf states to end Qatar boycott

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Saudi Arabia for talks on a range of Mideast crises topped by the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, threats from Iran and the Saudi response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a year ago.

However, Trump has said Washington wants to preserve the alliance with the oil-rich kingdom, which he sees as a bulwark against common foe Iran and a lucrative buyer of USA arms.

Pompeo also urged the Saudis to end the kingdom's near'y two-year-old dispute with its Gulf neighbor Qatar, which has hurt U.S. efforts to create a united Arab military alliance to counter Iran.

He will return to the United States after meetings in Oman instead of traveling on to Kuwait. He will still travel to Oman later Monday. "This curtailment of travel is required so that the Pompeo family may attend a family funeral. Qatar's offers to fund capital expenditures and sustainment affords the possibility of a more enduring US presence", the joint statement issued following the second US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue read.

"Our expectations have been clear from early on: every single person who has responsibility for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi needs to held accountable", Pompeo said, claiming that the Saudis understood and had reiterated pledges to pursue the case wherever it leads.

The top U.S. diplomat, on an extensive Middle East tour, held talks with King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who faces global opprobrium over the journalist's murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

"We did talk about how we might put the Gulf rift back in a better place", he said. "We think we learned a lot along the way that will be important going forward", he said.

The prince replied that the Saudis would "try to add more positivity, as much as we can".

US President Donald Trump has brushed aside worldwide outrage to stand by Prince Mohammed over the murder of Khashoggi, whose corpse was dismembered at the consulate. The Trump administration has been adamant that there is no established connection to Saudi's crown prince in the killing.

The US embassy in Riyadh said Monday that Pompeo and Prince Mohammed "agreed on (the) need for continued de-escalation and adherence to (the) Sweden agreements", especially the ceasefire in the lifeline port city of Hodeida. "A comprehensive political solution is only way to the end the conflict", the US Embassy tweeted.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that a rift between Qatar and its Arab Gulf neighbors had gone on for too long.

Speaking from Lebanon, where he met with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, Mr Hale said: "Secretary Pompeo asked me to come to Lebanon to discuss America's regional strategy". "He made this decision to move on, but America's commitment remains unchanged".

Washington has also welcomed "Qatar's generous offer to expand critical facilities at bases used by U.S. forces in the country and to align operating procedures at these bases with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation standards, thereby increasing the operational capability of USA and coalition forces based in Qatar".

He also suggested that Lebanon should be cautious regarding Hezbollah's role in a new government.

Pompeo told the crown prince that his Middle East journey, which has taken him to Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, had been "good" so far.

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